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Big League Stew

Justin Verlander at Pebble Beach Pro-Am: 2-under after 1st round with partner Robert Garrigus

David Brown
Big League Stew

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(AP)

Rated a 4 handicap coming in, Detroit Tigers ace right-hander Justin Verlander did OK in the first round of the Pebble Beach Pro-Am golf tournament on Thursday. Verlander and his playing partner are tied for 116th. But the heck with golf for a moment. What was Verlander's reaction to the media, including USA Today, after hearing about the $175 million contract that Felix Hernandez of the Mariners just signed?

"Holy cow. You miss a lot being out on the golf course," said Verlander, who with playing partner Robert Garrigus carded a 2-under 68 on the Shore Course of the Monterey Peninsula Country Club.

Verlander, who turns 30 this month, is due to be a free agent after the 2014 season. Might he use his proficiency on the golf course as additional leverage against the Tigers? Well, he's not that good at golf. But he's not bad. USAT reports:

“It’s just something totally different,’’ said Verlander, who picked up golf in high school. “You’re out of your element. It was a lot of fun, though. Even if I didn’t have a good hole, I can’t help but smile about it. I had a blast.’’

Particularly after he followed a terrific tee shot with a birdie putt on the par-3 ninth hole, drawing applause.

Verlander's drives were described as "erratic." One landed among four young deer who "stared" Verlander down. Verlandeer! The fans appreciated his power, but not so much that they forgot to remind him of his place — or his disappointing performance in the World Series against Pablo Sandoval.

“Oh, yeah, quite a few (comments),’’ Verlander said. “Anything from, ‘You need to become a Giant,’ to giving me a little razzing. It’s fun. I don’t mind it.’’

Any references to Sandoval?

“Yesterday I hit a drive pretty good and somebody said, ‘Not quite as far as Sandoval hit that ball,’.’’ Verlander said. “That was pretty funny.’’

Golf fans are tough. If that's the price to pay for living Verlander's life — getting the biggest contracts, getting to know Kate Upton and getting to swing at the world's most beautiful golf course — Verlander is doing OK for himself.

The tournament continues Friday. Verlander's great life? Indefinitely.

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